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London week 2

So, I have finished my second week here in London. It has had its ups and down. On the plus side I got to travel to Scotland this last weekend and I got to see the beauty that it holds. I finally got to ride on a open air double-decker bus. I took a tour of Scotland while sitting on the top of the bus. It was really nice not to have to take pictures through a window.

I climbed a hill called The Tor. it is a 518 foot hill and the climb is almost vertical, but I made it to the top and the view was well worth the climb.

I have made some really great new friends, many of whom I am already Facebook friends with. they are the kind of people that I know I will keep in touch with for a very long time.

On the down side, I learned that even with all its benefits, the train transportation isn’t always the best. I was stuck on the train for an extra 2 1/2 hours on my way back from Scotland due to electrical problems. 2 1/2 hours is a long time when you can’t really get up to move, there are screaming kids, and no bathrooms. But I made it back in one piece. Then, while changing lines on the tube some one stole my plug adapter out of my back-pack. they aren’t kidding when they say watch your stuff carefully on the platform.

All in all it has been a great trip. I have learned a lot and see a lot and I still have two more weeks to go!

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The End, and the Beginning, of Another Amazing Week

Before I start throwing out all the words, here are some visuals to help describe my adventures for the last week!

British Museum- Armor   Platform 9 and 3-4   Vegetarian English Breakfast- Glastonbury   Arthur and Guinevere   Glastonbury Tor- Group   Bagpiper

Hot Sass in Scotland   Scotland- A View from Above

From left to right, and up to down. (1) Armor from the period of Roman Britain (what the Hobbits may have had in their collection, and what Arthur and Lancelot would have worn: British Museum, London. (2) Headed to Hogwarts, at platform 9 and 3/4: King’s Cross Station. (3) The Traditional English Breakfast, with Vegetarian Sausage: Glastonbury. (4) The (supposed) original tomb of the legendary Arthur and Guinevere: Glastonbury Abbey. (5) A group selfie, with Glastonbury in the background: Glastonbury Tor. (6) A bagpiper: Edinburgh, Scotland. (7) Glorious Hot Sauce: Edinburgh: Scotland. (8) The view from above: Edinburgh: Scotland.

After a little over two full weeks in London, I am feeling pretty run down, and starting to get a bit homesick. But even though it has been overwhelming, I am having the time of my life.The trips never end! With two classes, I am going on about three to four excursions per week. This last week, I went to the British museum (3 times!), the British Library, Glastonbury (the first burial site of the legendary Arthur and Guinevere), Lacock (a village where some Harry Potter scenes were filmed), and Scotland (a personal trip). I didn’t think that it was possible, but I had even more fun this week than I did last week. I was able to admire many items and locations that inspired my inner (or outer, it is obvious) English nerd.

One of my the fun locations for this last week was the British Museum, three times. Now, this may seem like overkill, but I still have not seen everything that that museum has to offer! It is the biggest building I have ever been in, and more items stored than would fit in our university. Someone could go there every day of the week, and still not feel as though they had seen everything, not to mention they change the exhibits often. You would think that such an awesome museum would be expensive, but entrance was free! Of course, I still had to buy some books at the gift shop, since I didn’t have to spend money on admission. �� I also bought some books at the British Library, which was the most amazing archival/English experience that I have ever had. Our class explored the treasures room, which includes such original documents as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (My absolute favorite novel) and Beowulf, written in Old English (My favorite Epic).

Glastonbury was absolutely beautiful. I got to see the ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey, as well as the tomb that the legendary Arthur and Guinevere would have been buried in (of course, this is all legend). And I also got to climb up to the Tor, in which one can see to “the ends of the earth.” I am not exaggerating when I say that this was the most beautiful view that I have ever laid eyes upon; I felt like I was on top of the world: it actually inspired some tears.

Lacock was a cute little village, which is apparently a prime filming spot, as there was filming going on during our visit. This cut off our access to the Harry Potter film sites that we had come to see, but it was still fun to explore pieces of the little village. I had some delicious dark chocolate, and took a picture as an English prisoner.

Scotland was my favorite trip. Although Edinburgh is also metropolitan, it was much quieter and less crowded than London. Also, residents have worked very hard to protect the look of the city; new construction has to fit in with the old buildings. This makes it very fun to visit, as you really get the feel of a complete city, rather than the parts and pieces that arise in London. I also appreciated Scotland because the people there were much nicer; they smiled at us, an occurrence that is rare in London. I was also able to hear multiple Scottish accents; it is easy to tell which accents come from a “higher” class. Hearing the “lower” class accents made me feel like a fit in a little more, since I always feel like I am mumbling in London; I couldn’t understand the “lower” accents that ran together. Now I know how Londoners feel when I talk to them; I should get a cone installed on my neck…

I am still discovering cultural differences, every single day. One of these was quite shocking. This last weekend, I decided to chop all my hair off in Scotland, (don’t worry, I have been planning on doing this for forever,) but I could not find a barber shop that would serve me. Apparently, even with a short cut, barbers only cut male hair in Scotland. When I did find an actual hair salon, a woman, not a man, had to cut my hair. This was pretty surprising to me, as it is not like this in Oregon. I felt a little bit oppressed, even though I know that this was not the intent.

Even though I am feeling a tad homesick, since I never have time to sit down and just relax, I can’t picture living in the states for the rest of my life. As I stated in my last post, I am seriously considering graduate school in the United Kingdom. And even if this does not happen, I will definitely be coming back to visit even more places next year, such as Ireland and Paris.

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Finally Home

It feels really good to be home to be honest. I missed my family and friends, so it’s nice to see them again. However, there also has been some adjusting that I am currently doing. First off, I had to stay in a hotel an extra day after the rest of the group left Ireland as I had arranged my flight to leave a day later. It was quite unusual for me to be on my own like that. However, I still had a great time as I visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, and other sites in Dublin. Fortunately, I made it back to the states without any trouble. Another struggle adjusting to life back home is the time zone difference. The difference between Oregon and Ireland is eight hours, so that is a big difference. I think I’ve adjusted now at this point, but it took quite a few days. I would wake up really early and still feel exhausted at the end of the day. I’ve also struggled getting used to not having to do something everyday. It’s quite a bit more boring here than in Ireland. I’m so used to everything here, so I find it a lot less interesting here in Monmouth. Finally, I’m getting used to remembering to do more homework. I have an essay to write before the end of August. I need to write it soon so that I don’t forget all the details from my trip. Thankfully, I have photographic proof of what I did, so that’ll help. I loved that I was able to do this, and I hope to someday go back to Ireland someday.

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Week 2 & 3 Zamora

I have been so busy that I forget I need to post every week. My second week in my program we spend  doing a workshop with local people who perform traditional dances. I learned about the culture and what parts of Spain each dance comes from. We learned to play a few of the instruments and some of my classmates even tried on the traditional clothes. The dances were fun to learn and it gave me a taste of how people celebrate certain events with dance.

My classmates and I also took a trip up to Gijon, Spain for the weekend. We went to enjoy the beach and to visit another part of Spain. I fell in love with this area. I was beautiful and had a lot of history. The weather was a nice change too.

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The third week we had two excursions to Pereruela and Toro. In Pereruela we visited a pottery workshop. I got to see from the mixing of the material to making different types of pots, pans, and ovens. I also got a chance to try and make my own dish, which turned to to look more like a donut. In Toro we visited a old convent and a winery.

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My Spanish has been improving. I can now communicate my basic needs and am able to get by. I love that I am force to put my Spanish vocabulary to use. I am great at ordering un café con leche, and whatever needs I need at the store. I still have the feeling that I am not here in Spain. Maybe it will hit me once I return back home. I feel comfortable here and know my surrounding really well. I have made some great friends and they help me feel at home here. My one goal is to hope that I will continue to speak Spanish back in the states.

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Week 2

WOU blog writer Courtney Richardson reporting in from the last week. Saturday I flew out to Dublin and made a pit stop at the Hard Rock Cafe before catching a train to Galway. I spent the night in a hostel which was an interesting experience that I’m glad I got, but I definitely prefer hotels. Sunday I hung out with the lovely Jen Hight and we tromped around Galway for a while before I had to catch a plane back to London. Monday we had our class at the British library so that we could see their Magna Carta exhibit, it was pretty cool but I liked seeing the old English copy of Beowulf more. That night I went shopping with some friends and found the Disney store, which was great for me…but maybe not so great for my wallet. Tuesday brought another field trip, this time out to Windsor castle and Runnymede because this week was all about the Magna Carta, literally, only the Magna Carta. Windsor was cool, except for the part where I ended up sunburned. At Runnymede we saw the JFK memorial that the Brits put up, the Magna Carta memorial that the American bar association put up, and the Air Force memorial. There was so much climbing, my legs still hurt, but the views were incredible. Wednesday was class and a nice relaxing day in to recover from Tuesday. Thursday I spent with Jen Hight again, but this time in London. And I finally got to go see Westminster Abbey, although I think I was more excited by the fact that Jeremy irons was the narrator of the audio guide than I was about the stuff in there. Friday started way too early but I was going to Scotland so it was worth it. Saturday we had a free day to tromp around Edinburgh, I might’ve gotten lost, we won’t talk about it. We also saw Edinburgh castle which was pretty cool. Sunday we came back to London, but not until after we saw Alnwick castle. Now that is how a castle should look. I’ll report back later with more adventures, but first have some pictures.


Panoramic view from Alnwick


Panoramic view of Alnwick


Same as above


Same as above


Same as above


Window in Westminster, featuring Henry VIII


Window in Westminster featuring Elizabeth I


Panoramic view from the air forces memorial


same as above


Yeah, no explanation needed here


Found this pub in Galway, shitty picture but it’s Richardson’s


Did I mention that I found a storm trooper in Edinburgh? Because I did, and it was awesome

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Hello there!

My name is Estely Carranza and I will be participating in the Study Abroad trip to China, to study Traditional Chinese Medicine. I leave tomorrow morning and I am beyond excited, yet very nervous at the same time. I am very eager to try new foods, and learn and in live in a new culture. I’m not sure what sorts of foods will be available, but I hope it looks like the food in the picture. I hope that the people are friendly and approachable, as I try to learn the language. I also have heard that its very humid, so I hope that I can endure and adjust to the change in climate. Overall I am ecstatic to be in a new country and hope that you follow me on my journey as I experience learning about  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and their culture as well.

herbal medicine (TCM) 

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Germany Awaits

I have about a week until I have to leave for Germany. I have been so excited to go to Germany but as each day passes I become a little more and more nervous. I feel like there is still so much to do and so many bills to pay. Although I am trying to prepare myself for Germany, it seems much harder than I would have expected. I have been studying about German culture for the last six years and I still feel like there is so much to learn. The best way to learn is to surround myself in their culture. I cannot wait to get better, maybe even fluent, at speaking german. I am most excited to see the world and escape the United States. I want to play soccer, fussball,over there everyday. I believe that will be the easiest way for me to meet people and make new friends. I do not drink often and when I do it is only a small amount so that makes me nervous about drinking Germanys fine brews. Public intoxication is looked down upon in Germany compared to the U.S. where people are so drunk, they cannot even figure out how to stand. Small cultural differences like this are what interest me about going abroad.
I have a week after the program ends to travel and see what I can. Any suggestions to visit in or near Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany? I would love to visit neighboring towns and villages or even Lake Constance (Bodensee). How about some tips for preparing to study abroad? Any information is good information.

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Pre trip.. Pre flight.. Anxiety!

Less than three days until I am in China, well at least I hope I am counting right. Anyways.. I am so very excited! I cannot wait to arrive and be swamped by the new culture. I am definitely apprehensive about the warm weather and humidity, I’m more a cold person. I have heard so many stereotypes..
Like the smog will be choking you and
the traffic will last all day. Most of the time I hear you drive forever to get nowhere.
I think I will be fine though, because of how awesome my TCM class will be. I think I will have a ton of fun because I am going into this so excited. I plan to wake up every day and look at all the great things I will be experiencing. No negative thoughts whatsoever. Well, at least I can hope, right?
Anyway.. Until I’m in China,

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In Galway, But Didn’t Find Any Galway Girls

For the past four days, I have spent my time in Galway, which is on the other side of Ireland! The bus ride  was quite the experience. We stayed in Corrib Village, which were student accommodations. In other words, it was a bit spartan. Nevertheless, I was in Galway! For my Literature group, we went to Clonalis House & Estate, which belong to the O’Conor family, who were descended from the High Kings of Ireland. This house tour was a bit shorter than others, as the family still lived in the house. Nevertheless, it was interesting to explore a house of wealth. It also reminds me of how I probably will never reach that level of wealth. The estate itself was beautiful, and I would’ve loved to explore it even more. However, it was raining and I really didn’t have proper shoes for that.

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The next day, we went to the Aran Islands, specifically Inis Mor. The ferry ride over was a nightmare! The seas were choppy, so the boat kept going up and down. It also rocked back and forth. The sad thing is that this lasted for 45 minutes. When we finally got off, it was almost like we were in a different world. Inis Mor only has around 800 people, so it was sparsely populated. Also, a good portion of the population fluently spoke Gaelic, so there were quite a few things that were in Gaelic. We climbed to Dun Aonghusa, an ancient fort above the village. The wind was so strong up there that I thought I was going to fall off! I checked out a few shops and then we had to endure another ferry ride back. Thankfully, this one was a lot calmer. Afterwards, we got food and called it a day. IMG_8709   IMG_8726   IMG_8727

Our only main trip for the next day was visiting Coole Park, which was gorgeous. It belonged to Lady Gregory, who helped established Irish theatre. Because of her, the Abbey Theatre exists. She also helped finance W.B. Yates, showing just how important she was. One interesting sight in the park was a signature tree where she had her famous guests carve their names into the bark. Of course, I should’ve done that knowing just how important I am (this is all in humor), but there was a guard around the tree. Another beautiful sight was seeing a river that goes underground. The grass so green and the location was so serene. I would love to have stayed here for a few hours. IMG_8747   IMG_8756   IMG_8760

On the last day in Galway, it was a free day. Some people were going to go horseback riding, but I decided to stay behind and do some shopping. I bought an Irish flute, which i am very excited about. I can’t wait to play it and annoy those around me with it. I also bought a few more souvenirs for friends. For lunch, we went to a pub where they were showing a game of Gaelic football. Honestly, it was way more exciting than American football and probably makes more sense. Overall, I enjoyed my time in Galway and I would definitely come back. When we headed out, we stopped at Strokestown Park. It was very similar to other big houses, so I don’t have much to say. I am currently in Dublin, and I will fly home on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

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London: Week One

20150716_101905   Archery at Warwick

Telephone Booth   Stonehenge   Warwick Castle

Pictures, from left to right:(1) Oxford, Christ’s Church College (2) Archery at Warwick Castle (3) The famed red telephone booths (4) Stonehenge (5) Warwick Castle


Week one of my adventures came to a close yesterday. I say one one week, but it feels as though I have done more in this one week than I have in my lifetime! I have been all over London, and even ventured beyond it. Outside of London, I have visited: Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Salisbury and Stonehenge. I have also traveled to various sites in London, using the underground rail system. I even went on a London Plague Tour! (Check it out)

Before I came to London, I was not expecting that much would be very different, other than the accent and people driving on the opposite side of the road. However, much more has surprised me; I am definitely in a foreign country. One of the first differences that I noticed is that everyone here dresses very nicely. The men wear suits and women wear slacks, skirts or dresses. It is not common to see people dressed in jeans and t-shirts; even some of the grocery store employees wear suits. I really like this professional attitude, however it makes me feel kind of out of place with my jeans and backpack. I wish that I would have packed some more nice clothes.

Another difference that I have noticed is the portion sizes and the expiration dates on the food here. In the United Kingdom, a lot of the chemicals that we use in our food in America are banned. This means that the food here is smaller and expires quicker, and tastes 10 times better! The portions are also the perfect size for one person; I can shop for food without worrying that everything will go bad before I get to eat it. This, along with the fact that people walk everywhere, means that people here are a lot more fit: I have already lost weight in my first week here!

Another cultural difference is that to-go boxes are not really used here; occasionally a restaurant will have a sign saying that they have “take-away”, but most often, it isn’t an option (unless you wrap things up and stuff them in your backpack). And when you go to a restaurant, you order at the counter, not from the table. As with “take-away,” there are many different words used here for everyday things. “Toilets” or “Loo” is used in place of restroom, “rubbish” for garbage, “footpath” for sidewalk, “tube” for the underground trains, and “lift” for elevator are a few of the differences that I have noticed. It also not at all uncommon to hear different languages while you are walking down the street. It is great fun to listen for new words and different languages.

When thinking about language, I feel very self-conscious about my accent. In comparison to the accent here, it sounds like Americans are mumbling all the time. We don’t enunciate in the same way that they do, and this is apparent when service personnel have to keep asking you what you are saying. This has caused me to think more about how clear I am when I am speaking; I think this will serve me well, even back in the states.

I am having such a wonderful time here. Although I have not been getting enough sleep, in order to get all of my homework done, this is better than I ever could have imagined it to be. I love it here so much that I think I might come back for my graduate degree. Until then, I am going to enjoy my time while it lasts.


-Jo Braasch

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